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by yo go re

The TRUKK NOT MUNKY fanboys (like myself) hated the fact that the Beast Wars characters turned into animals. What, did they (we) all somehow forget that there were already a whole lot of Transformers who had been doing that since G1?

click to embiggen

Predaking is the perfect warrior. Powerful, remorseless, obedient, and nearly unstoppable, he hunts Autobots with a predatory intensity absent from even the most diabolical of his Decepticon peers. The massive x-ray laser he carries as a primary weapon is an instrument of singular destructive potential, capable of incinerating entire forests, liquefying steel and cement, and instantly turning an entire battlefield into a blasted landscape of rubble and fused glass.

Devastator may have been the first Combiner, but he was far from the last. The most successful (as far as the Decepticons were concerned) was the mighty Predaking. Devastator was rendered dumb by the competing minds of the Constructicons; Bruticus was as dangerous to allies as he was to enemies; and all the other Stunticons hate Motormaster, so Menasor is pretty useless as well. But for whatever reason, the Predacons work together exceedingly well, making Predaking a force to be reckoned with.

Note: since these guys are all so big, the pictures have been reduced in size. Click to embiggen.

All business. Hates waste in any form... won't burn an extra drop of fuel unless he's certain the results will be worth the effort. Long stretches of inactivity often mistaken for laziness. Explodes into furious, ferocious action when it's time to strike. As a lion, can leap distances as long as a football field. Claws can rip through foot-thick steel. Has twin concussion blasters and sonic sword. Combines with fellow Predacons to form Predaking.

Razorclaw is the leader of the Predacons, and it's amusing that his "laziness" fits so well with the way real lions behave. His robot mode is very square and chunky, as you'd expect from a Generation 1 release, but there's no avoiding that, really. His articulation is better than expected though, with movement at the toes, knees, hips, waist, and shoulders - that's practicaly super-articulated by '80s standards! He stands just under 6¾" tall, and is armed with a golden sword and a large, double-barrelled blaster. In fact, all the Predacons have swords; Razorclaw's has a simple, pointed crossguard. The gun can plug into the lion's back for attack mode, and the lion's jaw opens.

Doesn't listen to anyone, particularly his friends. Smug, arrogant. Puts up a stubborn front to hide deep-rooted insecurities. More vulnerable to psychological rather than physical attacks. In rhinoceros mode, his horn can puncture 3-foot thick steel, release corrosive acid. Uses plasma-sphere shooter that emits explosive energy balls; has light distorting diffraction sword. Combines with fellow Predacons to form Predaking.

Oh, I get it: his name is "Headstrong" and he's incredibly stubborn; but also he turns into a rhino, so his head is literally strong. I see what you did there, 1980s toy designers! In robot mode he stands 6" tall, but that's not counting the beast mode kibble behind his head. He's just as blocky as his boss, but not as well articulated (he moves at the shoulders and the elbows, but that's it). His face is golden, with a green visor; the original toy had a red visor, but the cartoon and comic had yellow, so this is a better option. The instructions don't mention it, but there's a flip-out panel between his legs to help the robot stand. His sword has upturned quillions, and he gets two identical black blasters. There's also a massive cannon that can attach to the rhino's back.

Prefers brute force over reason. Steam comes from his nasal ducts when he's enraged. Smashes head-first into highway trestles and small buildings to relieve his aggression. Always feels better afterwards. Carries 4 exterior fuel tanks, capacity: 1600 gallons, as a reserve for himself and his comrades. His horns shoot bolts of 20,000 volt electricity. Carries a catalytic carbine that shoots destructive chemicals, and an electro-sword. Combines with fellow Predacons to form Predaking.

Apparently feeling that "Tantrum" was too generic a term, this set renames this character "Torox" (which was always his Italian name, so it's not like it came out of nowhere). Whatever you want to call him, he's the tallest of the Predacons, reaching the 7½" mark thanks to the horns rising off his head. The articulation is limited to the shoulders, elbows and neck, though, and the elbows don't even bend the direction you'd want them to. His sword has an asymmetrical hand guard, andhis two black rifles are simple. Like Headstrong, he has a huge double-barrelled cannon that attaches to the bull's back. Fun fact: his original '80s instructions referred to him as a buffalo, not a bull. Odd.

He's like a kid at a candy store - always delighted by all the targets he has to choose from. Builds mecha-nests atop tall buildings and mountains; composed of late model sports cars, wings of jets, theater marquees. Back-mounted rocket thrusters allows speeds of 300mph, 2000 mile range. Can see a dime from 10,000 feet. Has particle-beam rifle with infra-red sight, and laser-guided sword. Magnetism inhibits flying ability. With fellow Predacons, forms Predaking.

Divebomb turns into some kind of vast, predatory bird. The instructions identify him as an eagle, but the specifics don't matter. His conversion is exaactly as straightforward as you think it is, but you can't argue with results - if a guy with wings and a bird head is good enough for DC, it's good enough for Transformers. He's about 6½" tall, and moves at the hips and shoulders. The wings also have a few points of articulation. His laser-guided sword has a crossguard that looks like wings, and his two black rifles can plug into his own wings when he's not holding them.

Barrels through life with an uncontrolled fury. Has difficulty talking coherently for more than a few seconds before violently lashing out at anything near him, friend or foe. TV calms him... stares at rock music videos for hours. As tiger, can leap 300ft. in height, 500ft. in length. A kick from his foreleg can crumble a cinder block. As robot, carries 60,000 volt lightning rifle, 5000 degrees Fahrenheit thermo-sword. Combines with fellow Predacons to form Predaking.

An early draft of Transformers: the Movie would have introduced the Anibots, a group of five Autobots(!) that turned into a lion, a rhino, a bull, an eagle, and a leopard. Proving that the Predacons are entirely different from that aborted idea, Rampage turns into a tiger, not a leopard! Not that he has any stripes, but we're taking their word for it. He stands about 6¾" tall, and moves at the shoulders, waist, hips, knees, and ankles. His sword has a three-pronged handguard, and his black rifles can plug into the cat mode's shoulders. The cat's mouth also opens and closes.

One thing Predaking has in common with Devastator that helps set him above the average Combiner is his unified colorscheme. Just as all the Constructicons are green and purple, all the Predacons are orange, red, black, and gold (it was yellow on the original figures, but the gold on this "Platinum Series" re-release is nicer). Now, the colors are all in different proportions and in different locations on each bot, but they combine to create a cohesive look for the gestalt.

Combined, Predaking is 11" tall, which is massive for the time. Razorclaw's twin concussion blaster converts into an X-ray laser that will plug into Predaking's arm, while Headstrong and Torox's cannons become Predaking's feet. He has spiked knuckles, and this release even gives him his own sword, instead of having to use one of the Predacons' - it's actually a gold repaint of the TF Prime Star Saber!

According to the official fiction, these Predacons are the ones who founded the Predacons of Beast Wars - so Predaking is like a living, breathing, Mount Rushmore. Each of the individual components retailed for $20 in 1986, which would be more than $42 today; no wonder I never had them as a kid! And that makes it kind of amazing I was able to buy this re-release - with diecast metal, a bonus accessory, and tons of new decals - for only $53. Granted, that was on a pretty amazing pre-Christmas sale, but SRP is only $120, and even for those of us who recognize that G1 toys really aren't as good as modern toys, that's not a bad price for what you're getting.

-- 02/11/14

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